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Starburst Embraces 'Contradiction'

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Wrigley is reeling in the zany humor of its Starburst candy advertising a bit to stress a product attribute, that of a “contradiction” between the candy’s hard outer shell and it’s chewy center.

The new ads, via TBWA\Chiat\Day, play on that idea.  One new TV spot features a kilt wearing and bagpipe-clad Korean man admonishing a child for eating Starburst. “Look at this! One contradiction eating another!” the man says. “What do you mean?” the boy asks in bewilderment. “You’re Scotch-Korean. You don’t make a wee bit of sense. And neither does Starburst. Starburst is a solid. It’s juicy. Like a liquid,” the musical player replies in a thick, Scottish accent.

The ad ends with the musician pointing out yet another “contradiction” — Timmy, the “albino lifeguard” is riding a bicycle half naked, except for some swimming shorts and a surfboard.

Starburst marketing director Trish Trecartin said the “contradiction” insight came from consumers. “Each time someone unwraps a piece, they are greeted with a mouthful of contradictions or surprises—a solid candy that is chewy, a treat meant for sharing that is hard to give away, and an instant burst of juicy flavor that lasts a long time,” she said via e-mail.

The push comes as market research firm Mintel predicts sugar confectionary to be a $2.15 billion category in 2009, up from its original forecast of $2.0 billion last June. Moreover, though confectionary sales grew only “incrementally” from 2003 to 2007, Mintel now expects it to grow by low-single digits over the next five years. (Data given is for “current” not “inflation-adjusted” prices.)  Driving the uptick are consumers making small and impulse luxury purchases, per the report.

“Products [like these] provide indulgence at a comparatively reasonable price. Impulse purchases of many of these products may increase,” the April report stated.

Starburst is currently the No. 2 player in the pastilles, gum, jellies and chews category, a sub-division of the sugar confectionary market, per research from Euromonitor International. As of 2008, Starburst held a 13.6 share of the market, topped by Twizzlers (15.5 share) made by The Hershey Co.

Spending for the campaign was not disclosed. Wrigley has spent $4.2 million advertising Starburst through April of this year, excluding online, per Nielsen.